Race to the top: Hundreds climb to ‘Summit’ of Midtown’s One Vanderbilt to raise money for FDNY

Hundreds of firefighters and volunteers scaled the stairwell to the Summit of One Vanderbilt on Sunday to raise funds for local firehouses.
Photo by Dean Moses

Hundreds of firefighters and volunteers scaled the stairs to the top of Midtown’s tallest skyscraper, Summit of One Vanderbilt, Sunday morning to raise funds for local firehouses.

Some 323 men and women of varying ages took part in the First Annual FDNY Foundation Climb on April 23 to make the 1,100-foot ascent to the top of 45 East 42nd Street. Hosted by SL Green Realty Corp, the event also looked to emphasize the importance of physical fitness that firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics must be in at all times in case of a life-or-death emergency situation.

“This is the tallest tower in Midtown since opening in 2020 and has become one of the most recognizable towers anywhere in the world and what better way to have an event like this to support the incredible men and women of the FDNY,” said Chief Financial Officer at SL Green Realty Matt DiLiberto.

families show their support. Photo by Dean Moses 
The race begins. Photo by Dean Moses

One by one, runners raced to the stairwell, where they began the rigorous climb 93 floors up. While many made the grueling journey wearing shorts and tank tops, some firefighters took each step donning full uniform and even an oxygen tank. The sight from far above was a stunning one: hand after hand clutched the surrounding railings as the runners made their way further up undeterred by exhaustion or the many flights still ahead of them.

It took the first few climbers just 15 minutes to make it to the Summit, many arriving sheathed in perspiration but also overwhelmed with joy — some even letting out adrenaline-fueled yells. While several participants made the climb for themselves to show that they could do it, others did it for their loved ones.

Jack Dimefski’s brother-in-law is a firefighter, and it is this service that inspired him to push through to the top.

Pushing through the pain and climbing the stairwell. Photo by Dean Moses
Pushing through the pain and climbing the stairwell. Photo by Dean Moses

“Right around like 30 floors it got pretty difficult but everyone around you is so encouraging, so it got me along the way for sure,” Dimefski told amNewYork Metro after finishing the climb. “This first year I mean, I think it’s all gonna grow from here; it was a great experience.”

FDNY Lieutenant Tracy Lewis with Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh’s office also made the trek. Lewis told amNewYork Metro that she was blown away by the experience, both in terms of the physical activity and how many individuals took part. 

“I thought it was great. For a lot of us in the department, especially on the uniform side, you know, this was a climb to the Summit, but the bigger picture was raising money for the foundation, so that was great,” she said. “And I was happy to see a lot of people come out. Hopefully, more people will come out next time. But it is a great experience.”

The climb raised some $170,000 for the department.

Reaching the top. Photo by Dean Moses
Reaching the top. Photo by Dean Moses